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Graphics / HD TV Tuner Card Suggestions

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  • Tuner Cards
  • TV
  • Tuner
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  • Graphics
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February 18, 2009 2:28:36 AM

I recently purchased an HP Pavilion Slimline s3750t desktop with Windows Vista 64-bit (also has 230W power supply and requires low-profile PCI / PCI-e cards). I'm now looking for an upgraded graphics card and HD TV tuner card (that will support clear QAM HD channels, specifically from Verizon FIOS). Several questions / comments below:

1) What is the general consensus on best low-profile graphics card & HD TV Tuner card that can be used together to provide good HD channel viewing (via clear QAM)? (I don't need to support any intense gaming apps).

2) Should the graphics card be PCI and TV tuner card PCI-e or vice versa or does it matter? I have one PCI and one PCI-e available slot.

3) I'd like to leverage Windows Media Center via Vista if possible, but can use HD tuner card app if needed.

4) I assume the HD Tuner card should have hardware based MPEG decoder to reduce load on PC CPU?

There may be other things to consider, but my main reqs are low-profile card and power supply limitations. Any assistance or thoughts on specific cards for both graphics and HD tuner would be appreciated.

More about : graphics tuner card suggestions

February 18, 2009 2:49:27 AM

I've been looking at the ATI HD 4350 Graphics card and ATI TV Wonder HD 650 PCI since they both appear to have low-profile form factor, but not sure about the actual connector plate having low-profile option. Any feedback on either of these cards in addition to initial questions above?
February 18, 2009 4:28:50 AM

You only need/want a hardware based card for analog recording. HD cards just copy the transport stream to the hard drive and don't do any mpeg conversion. Most are low profile and have the low profile bracket included with the card.

I do a lot of recording and use BeyondTv for my analog caps and the fusion app for my clear qam recording since my fusion cards are not supported for clear qam in BTV.

Here is what the Fusion recording scheduler looks like which is fairly simple to setup.

Related resources
a b x TV
February 18, 2009 9:14:45 AM

Observation based on Vista-64 Ultimate/ 4 Gbyte/8 Gbyte of Ram
1) I have different HD TV Tuner.... To make summary short... The best hardware that i have use to date is the ATI 650 PCIE. It has a built it encoder and it produces the best results for analog TV. HD/Digital TV is great. So if you are interested with good analog TV take note of this.

ATI PCIE/PCI 650 don't work well with vista-64 media center.

ATI software continue to have issues that are un-resolve. HD tuner goes blank when you switch resolution of the screen.

The hardware is good but the software is not.

Pinnacle HD TV produce one of the best HD TV that i have seen. The software on July 2008 is behind so i returned the card.

Hauppage: 1600/1800/2250

The hardware works and the software works...

I'm currently using 2250. Its a dual tuner hybrid tuner meaning any of the tuner can function as digital or analog tv or both.

Hauppage cards works well with Media Center. The software that comes with it also works.

Unlike the ATI650 card , hauppage don't re-process analog signal. So depending on your Analog TV source Hauppage Analog TV needs a lot of improvement.

In my case and personal preference i don't care about analog TV so this card works for me.

2) Most new cards are coming out in pcie. The interface does not make much of difference.

3) Hauppage is the HDTV tuner card that i have tried and work well with media center. Hauppage application software also works well.

ATI pc-650 and pcie-650 don't work with media center. It needs more work on your part to make it work on media center. Most of the time i use ATI TV software.

4) Hauppage and ATI cards have built in hardware decoder. Check ATI/AMD and hauppage website for more details. I'm using a QUAD CORE CPU so this requirement is less important at this point in time.

note: I keep my Video card and TV-Tuner separate. In that way i can upgrade any of the boards any time. ATI-ALL In Wonder Cards normally don't do well in games.

i hope the above information helps.


February 18, 2009 12:05:40 PM

Hauppauge HVR 2250 is a low-profile single-coax dual-hybrid-tuner. IMO it is the absolute best tuner in the world (and is low profile). I have an HVR 1600 and 1800 in my HTPC and love both of them (and their quad-tuner capabilities). If you're looking for a decent low-pro GPU you'll probably have to go for an ATI HD 4350 or 4550. I heard that Nvidia plans to release a low-pro 9600GT (I think called the Green Edition or something like that), but I haven't seen the actual product show up yet.
February 18, 2009 1:58:18 PM

Thanks for the info. So sounds like my best bet is as follows:

- ATI Radeon HD 4350 or 4550 graphics card since both are low profile (assume they have low-profile connector plate option as well ?)

- ATI TV Wonder HD (Combo) 650 PCI tuner card (only works with ATI software and not Media Center)
OR
- Hauppauge HVR 2250 tuner card (works with both Media Center and Hauppauge software)

* Both of these tuners have on-board decoders to relieve additional CPU processing


Any other issues regarding these options? Is it just personal preference at this point or are there actual benchmark tests out there comparing these tuner cards?
February 18, 2009 7:49:25 PM

You can only find a handful of professional reviews of tuner cards in general. Most people prefer Hauppauge, I believe. Do a little research (esp at The Green Button), and you should be able to make an educated purchase.
February 18, 2009 8:45:21 PM

The 9800GT is the best low profile video card, period.

SPARKLE GeForce 9800 GT 512MB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Your 230w power supply, unless built by Seasonic or Corsair, probably doesnt have the Amps to run it.

Galaxy GeForce 9600 GT 512MB $120 (95 with MIB)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SPARKLE GeForce 9600 GT 512MB $99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

They need the 6 pin power adapter too. Again your power supply may not have the Amps.

XFX 9500GT 512MB DDR2 $82 with low profile bracket
http://www.amazon.com/XFX-PV-T95G-YALG-9500GT-512MB-Exp...

XFX GeForce 9500 GT 1GB DDR2 $95 with bracket from amazon
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

The 9500 GT is the best low profile card you will find (until a low profile 4650 comes out) not needing a 6 pin connector. Im pretty sure, unless you have multiple HDD's and Optical Drives, you could run this (check the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator http://www.extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.js... ). There is a choice of 1GB or 512mb depending on the resolutions you will be playing on. They are DDR2 however good luck finding DDR3 (and let me know if you do).

PNY GeForce 8600 GT 512MB DDR2 $60
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Again no additional power connector needed and even though picture as regular profile it includes low profile bracket. This is almost as fast as the 9500gt for $22 less.

Most Low Profile Radeon HD 4550's are around $60. If you check Toms Chart you will see the DDR2 8600 GT are 3 tiers above the 4550
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-radeon,...

ASUS Radeon HD 3450 256MB $30 ($20 w/10 mail in rebate)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...

A decent card for casual computer use and light gaming. No gaming at high resolution or high details of course. Great just for internet surfing.

Hope this helped! I did a ton of research on low profile cards just recently so I knew all of this already.
February 19, 2009 2:25:55 AM

XFX 9500GT 512MB DDR2 $82 with low profile bracket
http://www.amazon.com/XFX-PV-T95G-YALG-9500GT-512MB-Exp...

XFX GeForce 9500 GT 1GB DDR2 $95 with bracket from amazon
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

The 9500 GT is the best low profile card you will find (until a low profile 4650 comes out) not needing a 6 pin connector. Im pretty sure, unless you have multiple HDD's and Optical Drives, you could run this (check the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator http://www.extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.js... ). There is a choice of 1GB or 512mb depending on the resolutions you will be playing on. They are DDR2 however good luck finding DDR3 (and let me know if you do).

PNY GeForce 8600 GT 512MB DDR2 $60
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Again no additional power connector needed and even though picture as regular profile it includes low profile bracket. This is almost as fast as the 9500gt for $22 less.

Most Low Profile Radeon HD 4550's are around $60. If you check Toms Chart you will see the DDR2 8600 GT are 3 tiers above the 4550
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-radeon,...


indigoataxia....thanks so much for the info....few more comments / questions. Looks like I may go with 9500 GT or 8600 GT based on the info here and Tom's heirarchy chart...plus with my power supply limited to 230W, these may be better options than high end cards. Would I really notice any difference between the 9500 GT and 8600 GT? I'm not reallly looking at any gaming, just displaying some HD TV channels and possibly BluRay HD down the road.

Also, what is the difference between DDR2 and DDR3....anything I would notice?

I'm still a little concerned if these low profile cards will still fit into the HP Pavilion Slimline s3750t desktop I have....how can I confirm this?

I'm also looking at installing a low profile HD tuner card....looking at either the Hauppage WinTV-HVR-2250 or ATI TV Wonder HD 650 Combo Tuner. Do you have any thoughts on either of these or is there a similar analysis on this forum of TV tuners?
a b x TV
February 19, 2009 4:11:42 AM

I'm not sure of your HDTV source... In case you plan to receive air-transmission you need an "Amplified Antenna". In door or outdoor amplified antenna will run hauppage 2250 or ATI650 pcie.

Note on ATI650PCIE.... Careful when using Amplified Antenna... Twice i fried the antenna input of the ATI tuner when the antenna gain was set high. Its a senstive input that it can run with weak signal. The downside it is prone to damage.

February 19, 2009 8:50:30 PM

odubman said:

indigoataxia....thanks so much for the info....few more comments / questions. Looks like I may go with 9500 GT or 8600 GT based on the info here and Tom's heirarchy chart...plus with my power supply limited to 230W, these may be better options than high end cards. Would I really notice any difference between the 9500 GT and 8600 GT? I'm not reallly looking at any gaming, just displaying some HD TV channels and possibly BluRay HD down the road.

Also, what is the difference between DDR2 and DDR3....anything I would notice?

I'm still a little concerned if these low profile cards will still fit into the HP Pavilion Slimline s3750t desktop I have....how can I confirm this?


odubman,

In reguard to DDR2 vs DDR3, DDR3 is a faster memory which typically makes the card slighty faster. For example a 9500GT with DDR3 would typically run at 1600 Mhz while DDR2 would run at 1000 Mhz. While the numbers are almost double, the performance is maybe an extra 20 fps in the case of the DDR3. Again finding a low profile 9500 GT or 8600 GT with DDR3 has, for me at least, been impossible...

And before anyone posts these off ebay ( http://shop.ebay.com/items/_W0QQ_nkwZlowQ20profileQ2095... ) the memory clock on those are 800Mhz which is the same spec as the DDR2 I posted earlier which leads me to believe those are in fact DDR2.

As for 9500GT vs 8600 GT, the increase of FPS with the 9500GT would be less than 5. They both have Direct X 10 support and Shader Model 4. The 9500 does run at 50w while the 8600 is 43w so that could be a deciding factor. Even though you would only save 7w of power, if you are going to put a blu ray drive in there you'll want to conserve all the watts you can. For watching movies you would not notice a difference between the two in terms of performance.

And if you have doubts of the cards fitting, here is a great HP Slimline forum with over 120 pages of posts that I check frequently for great info. They lately have been discussing upgraded power supplies that would fit in the slimlines but if you go back some you'll read about video card upgrades.

http://www.hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1224011&page=...
February 20, 2009 12:32:54 AM

indigoataxia said:


In reguard to DDR2 vs DDR3, DDR3 is a faster memory which typically makes the card slighty faster. For example a 9500GT
As for 9500GT vs 8600 GT, the increase of FPS with the 9500GT would be less than 5. They both have Direct X 10 support and Shader Model 4. The 9500 does run at 50w while the 8600 is 43w so that could be a deciding factor. Even though you would only save 7w of power, if you are going to put a blu ray drive in there you'll want to conserve all the watts you can. For watching movies you would not notice a difference between the two in terms of performance.



indigoataxia.....thanks again for the info. I saw a GeForce 9400 GT this evening for $40 after a rebate. I'm debating on getting this card based on the low price, but not sure if I should still go with the 8600 or 9500 GT for a little more $. I've seen the 9500 or 8600 for about $75 so may be worth the extra money for the better performance. Again, not looking for much in the way of gaming, just HD viewing and possible BluRay in future.
February 20, 2009 1:08:21 AM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GeForce_9_Series#Technical...

That is a comparison table of the Nvidia 9 Series video cards. You'll see the 9400 GT first and 9500 GT second. The 9400 has half the peak fill rates, half the shaders, half the memory bandwidth, and half the texture units. Basically it would be half as good as the 9500.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GeForce_8_Series#Technical...

That is the chart for the 8 Series. You'll see the 8600 GT 5th down the list. You'll notice it has the same number of shaders, texture units, and almost the same fill rates as the 9500. I understand your not looking for a gaming card but these specs are about the only way these cards are measured. With the 8600GT $66 shipped ( http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/ite... ) it just seems a better option to me being only a bit more.

If you do go for the 9400 make sure its at least 512mb as you'll need the memory for high resolutions (like 1080p when you run your blu rays).
February 20, 2009 4:17:14 AM

Video decoding is not memory intensive (as far as bandwidth or capacity go). That being said, midrange cards (like the 9600GT or 4650/4670) have much better post-processing capabilities than their entry-level and IGP counterparts. If visual quality is important to you (i.e. you consider yourself somewhat of a videophile, and will be watching on a high quality LCD monitor or plasma TV) you may want to consider the upgrade. If you simply want to watch BluRay and are not concerned about getting the absolute best quality video, the 9500 is the way to go (or ATI 4350/4550). Just bring it up for consideration purposes, not to try to influence your decision. A well-informed consumer is typically a happy consumer in the end.
February 20, 2009 3:56:33 PM

ok....so I went with the low profile 9500GT card. Now, what are the steps for installing this since I have some type of integrated graphics card already in my HP slimline? Can someone provide steps for any drivers that should be removed before I install the new 9500GT card / drivers?
February 20, 2009 8:20:54 PM

You shouldn't have to uninstall any drivers from the integrated graphics. Ive never had to, even with integrated ATI drivers and an aftermarket Nvidia card. If your integrated is Intel GMA I wouldnt worry about uninstalling anything but if its ATI I would uninstall ATI Catalyst after installing your new card so that its not hogging your resources and possibly making any conflicts.

The first thing you should do is install the latest Nvidia Forceware drivers. This can be found on Nvidia.com ( http://www.nvidia.com/object/winvista_x64_182.06_whql.h... for vista 64-bit, these are the latest drivers today, though you may want to search yourself incase its updated when you get your card). You will probably get a disk with your card but those drivers are probably a year old.

Then you should physically install the card. Incase you dont know, open the door by unscrewing the screws on the back, find the pci express slot ( http://www.karbosguide.com/books/pcarchitecture/images/... ), put the card in the slot until it clicks, attatch the screw at the top of the bracket to hold the card in, and replace the door. Also you will probably have a place holder on the slot to keep the dust from entering the back of the case you'll have to remove.

Make sure you attatch the monitor cable to the new video card port and not the original port. Boot your pc and it should work. You will probably need to adjust your resolution. If your still having problems try reinstalling the nvidia driver.

And finally you should go into your BIOS and disable the on board graphics incase any of your system memory is being allocated to your onboard graphics, which it probably is.

Good luck.
February 21, 2009 12:52:04 AM

indigoataxia said:

And finally you should go into your BIOS and disable the on board graphics incase any of your system memory is being allocated to your onboard graphics, which it probably is.




Thanks so much for the assistance. How do I get into the BIOS to disable the on board graphics once I have the new card up and running?
February 21, 2009 2:31:33 AM

For HP Slimlines you should have to press F10 as soon as the computer turns on. Keep pressing F10 until you see a grey screen with blue writing. If you see the Vista icon you've missed it.

You need to go under Advanced by pressing the right arrow key. Go to the second item, Primary Video Adapter by pressing the down arrow key. Then press the Enter key. You should have a small menu come up. I'm not 100% sure what yours will say but it should say to the effect of PCI-E or PCI Express. Use the arrow keys to select it and press Enter again.

Now go down one more to Onboard Video Memory Size. Press Enter to select and the arrows to change it. You should make it the smallest amount, probably either 8MB or it may have a setting of disabled. Then your done. Press F10 to save and exit, very important to save it.


You can familiarize yourself with your BIOS on this page which is the instructions for your exact PC from HP http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=bph...

Hope this helps!
December 28, 2010 12:33:54 PM

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